International Day for Elimination of Racial Discrimination

Author: Ashley Benedict

“To deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity.” – Nelson Mandela

Today is the International Day for Elimination of Racial Discrimination put forth by the United Nations Human Rights Office in response to the event on 21 March 1960, when police opened fire and killed 69 people during a peaceful demonstration in Sharpeville (South Africa), against the apartheid “pass laws.” In remembrance of the victims, in 1966 the UN General Assembly proclaimed that day the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, and called on the international community to redouble its efforts to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination.

This day is dedicated to recognizing the ever-present issue of racial and ethnic profiling across the globe, which often leads to discrimination and hate crimes. In our country’s current climate, it’s important to recognize discriminatory practices when we see them and to help stop the cycle of violence that many individuals face on the basis of race, immigration status, religion, and ethnicity. This daily reality for individuals of various identities often hinders progress in personal and professional aspects of their lives.

Other Campaigns

The Summit for Refugees and Migrants in September 2016 also sparked “Together,” a United Nations initiative to promote respect, safety and dignity for refugees and migrants. “Together” is a global initiative led by the Secretary-General that aims to change negative perceptions and attitudes towards refugees and migrants, in partnership with Member States, civil society and the private sector.

Another campaign, Stand Up for Someone’s Rights Today, was launched on Human Rights Day 2016, and aims to encourage people to defend and stand up for the rights of other human beings.

Other related UN initiatives include Let’s Fight Racism!, and the International Decade for People of African Descent.

#jointogether #standup4humanrights #fightracism #AfricanDescent

So how can you Stand Up against racism?

  • #FightRacism and make a difference wherever you are to break down racial prejudice and intolerant attitudes.
  • Get involved and learn more at’s Let’s fight racism site.
  • Read and share the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
  • Help make the UDHR more accessible, by recording it in your native language for a collection of audio recordings in as many languages as possible.
  • Make a video of yourself with a friend talking about why you believe human rights matter (e.g. non-discrimination, gender equality or freedom of expression).
  • Promote stories on your social media about people that you know have stood up for rights.
  • Speak up/out when you see someone’s rights at risk or under attack
    • If you see someone being harassed, bullied or ridiculed on the street, on public transportation, while shopping or at school, stand with them.
    • Use social media to stand with people who are facing reprisals for defending human rights e.g. activists, indigenous leaders, environmentalists, lawyers, trade unionists, journalists, etc.
    • At work, in school, around the dinner table, help someone whose voice is rarely heard to share their views.
  • Donate to organizations that support victims of human rights abuses.
  • Join public events in support of human rights – online and/or in the street.
  • Volunteer with a group that promotes human rights defenders.
  • Lobby your government to uphold rights: sign related petitions; lobby your legislators to pass human-rights friendly laws and to repeal unfriendly ones.
  • Urge your employer to sign up to the Global Compact on Business and Human Rights; promote celebration of human rights in the work place (e.g. non discrimination, family friendly policies, decent working conditions, equal pay for equal work).
  • Urge your community’s leaders (e.g. religious, local, sporting, cultural leaders) to make public commitments to human rights.
  • Combat myths with facts: in online and daily conversations, challenge harmful stereotypes.
  • Speak up for tolerance and against prejudice. Keep yourself in check, challenge your own views and prejudices.
  • Consider the human rights track record of companies before doing your shopping.
  • Talk to your children about human rights and point out positive and diverse role models. We have a variety of materials about teaching human rights to the young.

Every day, #FightRacism and make a difference wherever you are to break down racial prejudice and intolerant attitudes.

“Human rights are not things that are put on the table for people to enjoy. These are things you fight for and then you protect.” – Wangari Maathai

All information found on Stand Up for Human Rights and United Nations websites.

How do you plan to stand up against racism and discriminatory acts? Let us know! Send in any work, questions, or comments to


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